There’s a pleasing serendipity about the bicentenary of Huntley & Palmers and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee both falling in the same year. The famous biscuit manufacturer, once the largest in the world, was chosen to make the wedding cake for the then Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten in November 1947. The magnificent four-tier cake was based on a ‘special old recipe’ – the same one, no doubt, that had also been used for the wedding of Princess Elizabeth’s parents, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and the Duke of Kent, in April 1923, and of Philip’s cousin, Princess Marina, and the Duke of Kent in November 1934.
In a box in the loft, packed away for safe keeping, some small, engraved glasses, marking events in the lives of the extended family, had lain undisturbed for years. They had been etched by Frank (Francis) Crossley, somewhat irreverently known as Uncle Tut, because as a young man he abandoned his Barnsley roots and made a life for himself in Tutbury in Staffordshire. Oral history suggested that as a young adult, Frank had turned his back on his family and had little contact with them beyond a few hours’ visit around Easter each year. What seems more likely was that he left in order to make a living from skills that were not in demand locally.
The late Victorian era saw several piers being constructed in Wales, a consequence of our ancestors’ growing leisure time and love of a day out by the seaside. Although some were built for shipping purposes, others were entirely focused on holidaymakers, while some were a mix of the two. Piers were a vital part of the seaside economy in Wales in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and from the likes of Bangor and Beaumaris in the north, Aberystwyth in the west and Mumbles and Penarth in the south, seaside communities saw piers cater both for locals and visitors. People were needed to work on them and cater to people visiting them – for example as piermasters, hotel operators or entertainers. Others operated the steamers that enabled people to visit these piers and the towns they were located in. Although not all of these piers can be covered in this article, they were all objects of interest – but both tragedies and celebrations took place on and around them.
‘Like lots of people, I spend my life running around picking up children, dropping off children, cooking, shopping…’ says actor Anna Maxwell Martin in her episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, all the more apt given that one of her own notable TV roles was in the parenting comedy Motherland. I can still remember seeing her as Lyra in the National Theatre’s stage production of His Dark Materials almost 20 years ago, and since then she has established a very successful career in TV and film roles from Bleak House to Line of Duty. But she clearly hasn’t lost touch with the realities of family life. ‘I hope I’m shaped in parenting [by] how my parents parented me,’ she says, the onus being all the more on her as she is a single mum.
The 1891 and 1901 censuses for England, Wales and Scotland are now linked to historical and modern georeferenced maps by TheGenealogist to make it easier than ever to find where ancestors lived and see the surrounding neighbourhood.</p> <p>Family and house historians are able to investigate the streets, lanes and wider areas of where their ancestors lived at the time of the 1891 and 1901 census in this latest release from TheGenealogist – this release sees both censuses linked up to the site’s groundbreaking Map Explorer for the first time.
After silk production (sericulture) originating in ancient China reached medieval Byzantium, Spain and Italian city states such as Florence, Milan, Venice and Lucca, luxurious, highly prized silk materials began to be produced wherever climate and economic conditions permitted. The nascent French silk industry was actively promoted by the monarchy: from the 1460s Louis XI encouraged Italian weavers to settle and operate in centres including Lyon and Tours; later, in 1540, under Francois I, Lyon gained the monopoly of raw silk imports, setting the city on track to become pre-eminent in European silk manufacture. Throughout Renaissance Europe, superior Italian and French silks dyed in rich colours, dazzling brocaded (woven patterned) silks and soft, sumptuous velvets were coveted for domestic furnishings; banners, pavilions, canopies and horse trappings; church vestments and ceremonial textiles; and an array of courtly apparel – ladies’ gowns and hoods, and gentlemen’s gowns, cloaks, doublets, trunk hose and hats. Alongside costly furs and jewels, expensive silk garments and draperies were unrivalled for their intrinsic worth and impressive visual display. The use of silks was even restricted by a series of sumptuary laws to the upper echelons of society.
For several centuries Hampshire’s county town of Winchester was a more important settlement than London. In Roman times, as Venta, it became the capital of the Belgae in Britain. After the Romans, Hampshire emerged as the centre of what was to become the most powerful kingdom in Britain, the Kingdom of Wessex.
Come on a journey into past times, in the company of the people who were actually there. For centuries, people from all walks of life have kept diaries, written letters, composed memoirs or published articles revealing the details of their lives and times, or major events they witnessed. Histories is a weekly newsletter letting these voices from the past speak afresh, each illustrated extract presented with a short introductory essay by Discover Your Ancestors editor and writer Andrew Chapman to set it in context.
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